Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Jonesin' 5:06 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT untimed (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 6:28(Matt F) 


USA Today tk (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 4:53 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Sounds Like a Deal” — onomatopoetic justice. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 4/9/24

Jonesin’ solution 4/9/24

Hello lovelies! Let’s look into this week’s Jonesin’ theme, in which three five-letter sound words are strung together and hilarity ensues.

  • 20a. [Social media message that a percussive off-Broadway show is getting a movie deal?] STOMP FLICK TWEET
  • 37a. [Nab some showy jewelry from jail?] PLUCK CLINK BLING
  • 56a. [Trash talk about a doctor handing out phony cold remedies?] COUGH QUACK SMACK

Other things:

  • 69a. [Fröbe who played Goldfinger] GERT. He was dubbed by English actor Michael Collins in the James Bond film.
  • 12d. [Agemenon’s father (and Electra’s grandfather)] ATREUS. He was a grandson of Tantalus, who is sweetheart said carry a family curse after he to fed Atreus’ father Pelops to the gods.
  • 38d. [“___ Groove” (1985 hip-hop movie)] KRUSH. The movie is based on Russell Simmons and the early days of Def Jam Recordings. Featured artists include Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow Shelia E, The Fat Boys, and New Edition.

Until next week!

Lee Taylor’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fair Play”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that hide the letters HOHUM in non-consecutive order. The revealer is SO-SO (57d, [Meh, and a clue to this puzzle’s circled letters]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Fair Play” · Lee Taylor · Tue., 4.9.24

  • 17a. [Tedious roommate?] SCHOOL CHUM.
  • 25a. [Blah scrapbook?] PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM. Maybe a nit, but most people say “photo album.”
  • 44a. [Dull digits?] HOME PHONE NUMBER. Who still has one of these? Raise your hands.
  • 59a. [Boring bits?] SHOCK HUMOR.

Good Tuesday theme. The repetition of the circled letters helped towards the bottom of the grid which is appropriate for early in the week.

You run a risk when you base your theme on blandness that people will use those words to describe your puzzle. But that’s not a fair assessment of this grid. “Solid” is the word I’d use, and really, it’s just right for a Tuesday.

Further, it’s quite a smooth grid with good long fill (ALMIGHTY, EXHAUSTS, PISTONS, etc.). I did raise my eyebrow a few times, though. Do people actually say “HOP TO” [“Get a move on!”]? Did they ever?  LODEN [Thick woolen cloth] was brand-new to me, as was NARK with a K [British stoolie].

Clues of note:

  • 1d. [IRA options]. CDS. Hmm. Really? Any financial advisors around here? Seems to me like you wouldn’t use CDS unless you were getting very close to retirement.
  • 7d. [Rhine whine]. “ACH!” Cute clue. Reminds me that I love a good German Riesling.

3.5 stars.

Caroline Sommers & Freddie Cheng’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 4/9/24 – no. 0409

The theme entries are made by changing -ETT at the end of surnames to the word IT:

  • 20a. [“Hey, Mr. Gazillionaire from Omaha – go shine the car!”], “WARREN, BUFF IT!”
  • 34a. [“Hey, Julia Roberts’s ex – you’re doing great!”], “LYLE, LOVE IT!” Poor guy. His entire alt-country musical career shunted aside in favor of a brief 1990s marriage.
  • 42a. [“Hey, patriarch of 1960s television – shut up!”], JED, CLAMP IT!” First off, three real people and one fictional (from The Beverly Hillbillies) feels imbalanced. Second, “clamp it”? Do people say that??
  • 56a. [“Hey, acclaimed Australian actress – prepare the broccoli!”], “CATE, BLANCH IT!” Eww, broccoli.

Fave fill: TINA FEY, “BAD ROMANCE,” TIKI ROOM, and (I do this, but not quite to the extent of [Brought nine possible outfits for a one-night stay, e.g.]) OVERPACKED. A tad surprised to find ERTES lurking in a Tuesday puzzle.

I don’t at all get this clue for KILO: 63a. [European heavy weight?]. The kilogram is pretty global, and it’s 2.2 pounds. A heavy weight would be a thousand times that. Who can explain this? If “heavy weight” is supposed to evoke a heavyweight, the question mark isn’t working that way.

3.25 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 672), “Life’s a Beach”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 672: “Life’s a Beach!”


Good day, everybody! Hope all of you are doing well today. On April 8, 2014, I wrote my first blog on Diary of a Crossword Fiend, reviewing a CrosSynergy puzzle, while sitting in a hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, as I was covering the NCAA Women’s Final Four. Now 10 years later, and I’m writing up a blog for Liz Gorski’s Crossword Nation while covering the national championship game of the Men’s Final Four in Glendale, Arizona. In between, I’ve written reviews for puzzles appearing in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the New Yorker, Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website, AVCX, and USA Today, and I probably should have tried to write at least one review of each of the puzzles featured on the website! It’s been an honor to have a platform on a website that has been so influential for many crossword lovers, and whether you love my commentary and brand of humor, or can’t stand hearing the mention of sports anywhere in media, I do thank each and every one of you for welcoming me into your lives through this platform. There was serious doubt that many of you would even want to hear any commentary from me given the luminaries that have graced this space, but all I wanted to do was make sure that people reading the blog can get to read the perspective from a crossword solver and commentator who absolutely appreciated every constructor who put in time to entertain us with their work and engineering. I don’t know how many more days/months/years/blogs I have left on here after a decade’s worth of them and juggling that with sports reporting (and, of all things now, crossword constructing!!), but for however long I’m still here, I want to make sure to keep things fun and interesting. Thank you! Oh, and the anniversary cake is in the back of the room. There are plenty of slices left!!

For today’s puzzle, we get a chance to think about the summer that will soon be upon us! (Well, in Arizona, it will be in the 90s starting tomorrow, and I’ll be here until Wednesday.) Each of the five theme entries is a multiple-word answer in which the first word can also come before the word “beach.” 

      • MUSCLE SPASM (16A: [Charley horse])
      • MIAMI VICE (23A: [TV show with the stylishly-dressed Crockett and Tubbs])
      • VIRGINIA CREEPER (35A: [Climbing vine native to eastern North America])
      • PALM PILOT (51A: [Pioneering data organizer])
      • SOUTH DAKOTA (59A: [Site of the Crazy Horse Memorial commissioned by Chief Henry Standing Bear])

Even though APTEST was clued the way it was (one word instead of two), it still have me some wicked flashbacks of having to take AP exams in high school, which were pretty much the bane of my teenage existence (20A: [Most fitting]). Love the fun fill of I’D SAY SO right in the middle of the grid (24D: [“Sounds right to me”]). The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament was staged this past weekend, and a loose acknowledgement of that was seen in the clue for BIC, and I’m sure many Bic mechanical pencils were used as so many spent the weekend solving some amazing and deviously tough puzzles (30D: [Corporate “pen” name that may sponsor a crossword tournament]). Of course, whether the pencil tips were 0.7 mm or 0.9 mm is the big debate that will wage on forever! But, if you consider yourself a cool crossword solver, then you’ll use Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, my writing instrument of choice when doing crosswords! 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SEALS (22A: [Elite Navy group]) – Of the six hockey teams that came into the National Hockey League in 1967, marking the league’s first expansion to the “Original Six” teams, only one is no longer in existence: the California Seals. The team was founded in 1961 and played in the Western Hockey League before it was selected to join the NHL. Unfortunately, the team never had a winning record in nine seasons in the league, only made the playoffs twice, and, due to poor attendance in Oakland, were relocated to Cleveland in 1976. Two years afterward, the team, now known as the Cleveland Barons, ceased operations. Each of the other five teams that were added to the NHL in 1967 have all played in, and won, the Stanley Cup Final. (The other five teams in the original expansion were the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars [now the Dallas Stars], St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings.)

Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving! And, thank you for having me along the ride with you guys for the past decade on Fiend!

Rest in peace, Mr. Bob Klahn.

Take care!


Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 4/9/24 • Tue • Agard • solution • 20240409

Verdict: not hard!

Anyway, let’s go.

  • 1a [“Paradise Square” Tony winner Kalukango] JOAQUINA. Didn’t know this, but all the crossings were helpful and pretty easy.
  • 19a [Video-game characters with six needs (hunger, hygiene, bladder, energy, social, and fun)] SIMS. Not quite Maslow, but maybe inspired by.
  • 31a [When less is more?] OPPOSITE DAY. Second day in a row where reference was made to this adage. This one has a question mark.
  • 40a [Taking several steps in a row?] LINE DANCING. Cute.
  • 44a [ __’d (wearing a twisted hairstyle)] LOC. First time I’ve seen it presented this way in a crossword. Nice.
  • 55a [Focus of some month-long observances] HERITAGE. I like this framing.
  • 61a [Animals in a series of Kia Soul ads] HAMSTERS. News to me.
  • 4d [“Let me ask you …”] QUESTION. I like this framing too.
  • 9d [Spice mix for some South Asian street food] CHAAT MASALA. Wikipedia characterizes it thus: “Chaat masala, also spelled chat masala, is a powdered spice mix, or masala, originating from the Indian subcontinent, typically used to add flavor to chaat. It typically consists of amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, coriander, dried ginger, salt (often black salt), black pepper, asafoetida, and chili powder.” Incidentally, I never trust a food that has foetid right there in its name.
  • 33d [Refaat Alareer’s “If I Must Die,” for one] POEM. It was written before he was killed in Gaza by an Israeli airstrike.
  • 38d [“There’s no use living in denial”] ACCEPT IT. One of quite a few nifty quote-clues, which I’m not listing here.
  • 46a [ __ Davis Institute on Gender in Media] GEENA.

Zachary David Levy’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

Fiend’s own ZDL is up today! I guessed at the revealer and I was wrong. I’ll share my idea in a minute.

We have circles.

Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2024, Zachary David Levy, solution grid

  • 17a [Garlic bread option] is TEXAS TOAST.
  • 22a [Column of super-heated ash and sulfur dioxide during an eruption] is a VOLCANIC PLUME. Sometimes being married to a geologist is helpful. See also EPOCH.
  • 44a [Nightshade relish] is TOMATO COMPOTE.
  • 51a [Reading on a decibel meter] is the NOISE LEVEL.

I thought the revealer was going to be something about an OPEN BOOK. Nope. 33a [One of a pair on a library shelf, as well as one of a pair in each set of circled letters] is BOOKEND. The syntax in the clue is a little tortured, but the meaning is clear. Nice!

A few other things:

  • Am I the only one who plopped LEAN ON at 1a for [Use for support]? It’s RELY ON. Slowed me down a smidge.
  • To me, something that’s [Available for purchase] is FOR SALE and ON SALE is something at a reduced price. Just me?
  • TIL that some hybrids use GAS and others use propane along with electric power. I know propane is also a GAS and we all know that they meant GASOLINE.
  • The geological time scale also includes EONS as well as the aforementioned EPOCHs. #imarriedanerd
  • 57a [“Noah kept bees in the ark hive,” e.g.]” is a very bad PUN. And by “bad” I mean “funny,” of course.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Jack Black made a film called YEAR ONE and that it had the tagline “Meet your ancestors.”

Universal Crossword Review by Matt F

Title: Place Names
Constructor: Aidan Deshong
Editor: Taylor Johnson

Universal Solution 04.09.2024

Theme Synopsis:

Names that start with U.S. cities and lend themselves to clever puns:

  • 17A – [Tax in Oregon?] = EUGENE LEVY, of American Pie fame and Schitt’s Creek more recently.
  • 26A – [Cherry in Arizona?] = CHANDLER BING, a character on Friends portrayed by the late Matthew Perry.
  • 45A – [Authorities in Texas?] = AUSTIN POWERS, one of many characters played by Mike Myers in Austin Powers (not to be confused with Michael Myers, the antagonist from Halloween).
  • 63A – [Contestant in Indiana?] = GARY PLAYER, revered as one of the greatest professional golfers of all time.

Overall Impressions

Eugene, Oregon; Chandler, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Gary, Indiana. Solid city names that are common masculine names in the U.S. When I got Eugene Levy I was expecting the remaining theme answers to be real people, too, but then I uncovered Chandler Bing and my theory went out the window. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, it just makes the theme a little “looser” by strict cruciverbal standards. The clues and theme answers follow a consistent format and that’s good enough for me. Nothing in here worth HAVING A COW about.

Also, shout out to Taylor Johnson who is making his editorial debut today! Taylor started the indie project Lemonade Disco and I’m sure he’ll do great things in this new role at Andrews McMeel.

Thanks for the puzzle,  Aidan!

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31 Responses to Tuesday, April 9, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I don’t usually love wacky themes but I somehow enjoyed this one.
    I’m especially grateful that the cluing for the last couple of days feels normal for this part of the week. It’s great if it’s the result of hearing feedback and using it to fine tune the editing. I admire people who do that.

  2. Leonard Levine says:

    NYT:it’s a blooper, not a looper

    • RSP64 says:

      Per Baseball-Almanac.com: looper DEFINITION – A fly ball that carries just beyond the infield for a hit.

      I’ve heard it called both.

  3. Ethan says:

    NYT: I thought “Blanchett” was pronounced with primary stress on the last syllable, not like “blanch it” and not parallel to Buffett, Clampett, and Lovett.

    • David L says:

      First syllable stress, if Wikipedia is to be believed.

      But no one says ‘clamp it’ to mean shut up, do they?

  4. GTIJohnny says:

    WSJ 26D. I’ve heard HOP TO IT as an analogy to the clue “Get a move on!” but never simply HOP TO. That west central portion of the puzzle was a no go for me. ODIUM for “Contempt” was a toughie for me.

  5. Mr. [not at all] Grumpy says:

    A nice New Yorker puzzle from Mr. Agard. I groaned at 1A, but [as pannonica noted] the crosses were fair. That’s all I ask for if you want to toss an obscure name into the grid.

    • David L says:

      I liked it too, although it seemed toned down somewhat by the usual Agardian standard. I don’t know exactly how TNY is trying to calibrate the difficulty levels of its puzzles, but they’ve always been a little wayward on that point.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        My experience with this puzzle was in line with past EA TNY Wednesdays. Other than yesterday’s puzzle, it still seems to me that they’ve moved their previous Wednesday level of difficulty up to Tuesday and their previous Thursday difficulty up to Wednesday. For me, I’m guessing that the difficulty of their puzzles will remain almost as dependent on the constructor as it is on the day of the week.

    • Eric H says:

      I liked it a lot, too. All my unknowns (JOAQUINA, BLUE BIRD, CHAAT MASALA, SIM, LONGAN, HAMSTERS) were derivable with a few crosses. My biggest slow-down was my inability to spell HARARE correctly on my first attempt.

      The clues for OPPOSITE DAY and LINE DANCING are pretty good.

    • JohnH says:

      Sorry, but my experience wasn’t at all “fair.” Just another Asgard “you know it or you don’t” puzzle.

      In that corner, I didn’t know the video game term or the 1A name, leaving _LU_ for the donation target. While I’m aware that alums like me are constantly targeted for donations, I also thought of donating to a CLUB, and the game characters could as well be sibs.

      I’d forgotten LONGAN, and ALI was by no means assured. I’d never heard of OPPOSITE DAY and am not up on my dating apps, apparently, although CHAAT MASALA did look like a valid entry since it’s two halves are familiar. I needed that for LOC’d, also new to me, and for HARARE, which you don’t see everyday (geography quiz!) as other than a hot sauce. So overall, a just plain hateful puzzle. And yeah, agreed with others that the constructor, not the day, is always the measure of difficulty and validity of the difficulty.

      • Martin says:

        Chaat masala is great stuff. It’s sour and “funky.” The sour comes from dried, powdered green mango and or tamarind. The key ingredient, “black salt,” supplies the funkiness. Black salt contains a number of sulfur compounds, giving it a bit of a rotten-egg odor. A trace of sulfur brings out the savory character of many flavors. Indian cuisine also uses the gum asafoetida (“devil’s dung”) for the same reason.

        Interestingly, fruit enjoys the sulfurous treatment. (Lovers of durian will not be surprised by this.) I sprinkle a bit of chaat masala on watermelon. It transforms it in ways that would surprise most people unfamiliar with this technique. In a good way, really.

      • Seattle DB says:

        JohnH: +1

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Wow, ten years! Time flies, Ade. Thank you for your decade (so far!) of service to the crossword community.

  7. Dan says:

    NYT: For some irrational reason, I utterly disdain clues like “Cat, cutesily” for KITTY.

    At the moment I find it hard to explain what it is that I despise so much about such clues. But when I encounter a clue that I dislike so very intensely as this one, it turns me off to the whole puzzle.

    • DougC says:

      I don’t even get why this is clued as “cutesily” since it’s such a well-established and commonly-used diminutive for “cat.”

      • Eric H says:

        That “cutesily” threw me enough that I almost tried to put something else there. Even “kitty cat” doesn’t quite strike me as “cutesy.” (And I have a low threshold for cutesiness.)

  8. dh says:

    My first thought was that “KILO”, while generally accepted as a short form of “Kilogram”, might also be short for “Kiloton”. A quick internet search proved me wrong. However, “heavy” is a relative term. Today, in fact, I put a kilo of copper in my bag to give to someone at work who didn’t show up – and by the end of the day I was very ready to call it a heavy weight. But then again, I’m in New York, not Europe – so what do I know?

  9. Kelly Clark says:

    Congratulations, Ade, and Happy Anniversary…your reviews are a joy to read. Thank you!

  10. Norris Smith says:

    My pc does not record my solutions to connections, strands, or wordle, but my phone does; can this be changed so that they do get saved.

  11. Eric H says:

    Universal: Like Matt F, I was also a bit surprised when the second theme answer was a fictional character. Having never seen “Friends,” I know CHANDLER BING only from crosswords.

    But given that the theme answers break two real, two fictional, I didn’t mind. (Although as a Texan, I find AUSTIN POWERS as clued a bit too real.)

    Fun little puzzle.

    • Aidan Deshong says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! I originally queried with JACKSON POLLOCK [Fish in Mississippi?] and BROOKLYN DECKER [London transport in New York?], but we decided “decker” wasn’t enough of a term on its own.

  12. Seattle DB says:

    Matt F: re the Universal: I just checked the Andrews McMeel Universal website and they still show David Steinberg as the editor.
    So is Taylor Johnson going to replace Steinberg soon, and if so, what will David S. be doing next? (I really like David and his parents, who are good crossworders too!)

    • Martin says:

      On LinkedIn, David notes a title change in February to Editorial Manager, Puzzles. He says he now oversees a team of five editors and one contractor. I presume this is all good.

      • Seattle DB says:

        TY Martin, for being a man for all answers! So it sounds like David will be lead editor and Taylor Johnson will be one of the associate editors, correct?
        BTW, you and pannonica are a wealth of information for all of us, and we greatly appreciate all of the hard work that you both put into this website!

        • Martin says:

          I assume that the arrangement will be as you’ve described.

          Thanks for the nice shout-out, but pannonica is in a different league. She dedicates a lot of energy to making this site great; I’m just an occasional commenter.

          • Seattle DB says:

            (I should have expected your humble response, and I think both of you are very knowledgeable and help the rest of us see things in a brighter light. Thanks again!)

Comments are closed.